First, I would like to apologize to my Patreon supporters. My plan this week was to write about The Rock, the Nicolas Cage/Sean Connery action/heist film. I call it a heist film because it still involved a detailed infiltration plan with tangible goals, even though the protagonists weren’t trying to steal money or paintings or Julia Roberts. So it’s definitely a heist, and I told my Patreon supporters that I was going to talk about it this week. But I can’t do it. Today I’m going to talk about something that I feel very strongly about. I was having a conversation with my friend Chad a couple days ago, and it really prompted a powerful reaction.
I’ve made promises not to discuss politics, and for the most part I’ve held true to that. Last week was about the Lion King, and if it felt like I was attacking someone you support, maybe you should take a look at the man in the mirror. Maybe ask him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer, you guys. For the record, I’ve been at this for about six months now, and that is my second solid “Man in the Mirror” reference. But like I said, I’m going to talk about something that matters to me.
When is the last time we had a great (non Disney) movie soundtrack? In the 80s and 90s, soundtracks were a major part of a movie. Soundtracks would be amazing albums that you could just sit and listen to straight through. There were soundtracks so great they could make up for how bad a movie was. Queen of the Damned is a bad movie. A very, very bad movie. It’s a bad movie, it’s an even worse adaptation of a novel. They remove 13 named characters, change the origins of multiple characters, then remove the primary plot and elevate a sub plot to the main. This in turn becomes a poorly acted, poorly paced, mess of a movie. But through it all was a phenomenal soundtrack written specifically for this movie. Queen of the Damned is such a bad movie that I don’t like thinking about it, but I do own the soundtrack. It elevates the movie. Soundtracks used to do that, you guys! What happened?
I touched on something last paragraph that I think needs to be expanded upon. The Queen of the Damned soundtrack was written specifically for that movie. How cool is that? As a comedian, you rarely write jokes specifically for one show. Obviously, there are exceptions like corporate events or roasts, but generally you want to write material you can do in a variety of environments. So how great is it that bands and singers used to write songs for just one movie? Sure, sometimes there were hits like Footloose or Everything I Do (I Do It For You). Kenny Loggins and Bryan Adams can play those songs at every concert in every city. But there’s no way Will Smith was singing “Nightmare on My Street” or MC Hammer was doing “Addam’s Family Groove” as part of their regular rotation. Vanilla Ice probably did “Ninja Rap” at his concerts, but he also wasn’t the most self aware performer. So I just really love that these musicians were making music just for this one scenario. Will Smith made songs for several of his movies, and they were all great. Wild Wild West the song was better than Wild Wild West the movie.
In addition to the complete soundtracks that elevated mediocre to bad movies, what about the soundtracks that had just one incredible song? A few weeks ago I talked about “Kiss From A Rose” as the best part of an entire Batman movie. Batman Forever was a terrible movie, and the soundtrack was largely forgettable. But Kiss From A Rose is so good. SO good you guys. That capitalized “o” was not a typo, it was for emphasis. Boom. Another movie I discussed recently was Armageddon. I don’t hate this movie, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the best part of the entire piece is “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” That song revived Aerosmith’s career. A soundtrack song saved them from obscurity and lead them on to another two decades of slowly sliding into irrelevance. It’s a great song, but I do kind of wish it hadn’t come out. Watching Steven Tyler put on cowboy hats and judge American Idol is pretty awful. How does he actually look worse than Keith Richards?
Titanic is another movie soundtrack that comes to mind. Well, not the soundtrack, just the Celine Dion song. Name one other song on that soundtrack in the comments, and I will accuse you of Googling it just to prove a point. In any event, I hate that movie. I hate it with a hate usually reserved for ISIS and Rob Thomas. My blog about Titanic took forever to write because I had to break the movie into multiple days. Not because it’s such a long movie, by the way. Because it’s just so bad. So bad. And one of the worst parts of the movie is that damn infectious penny whistle featured in “My Heart Will Go On.” I can’t hear that song without getting flashbacks of the movie. So in this case the song is a pain, but I can’t deny that it is iconic.
Before I move on to another topic, there are two other standout soundtrack songs that I have to mention crushing it in the “only song on the soundtrack you know about” game. That’s a great game, by the way. First is “All For Love” from Three Musketeers. The combined power of Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting all on one amazing song. I play this on the jukebox at almost every bar I go to, and I can only assume everyone is as thrilled as I am. But when it comes to iconic songs, nothing tops The Bodyguard. That soundtrack gave us Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Holy shit you guys, that song. It was an era defining song, the kind of song that blew everyone away. I’ve never heard a version of that song i don’t like, but Whitney Houston’s version is THE version of the song. And that came from a movie soundtrack. Why don’t we have that anymore? I miss it.
The last thing I really feel the need to mention is music videos. Videos have largely gone by the wayside in recent years anyway, but there was a time where the videos were a major production. The artist and producer would work with the movie producer, the actors, everyone involved, and they would put together a real production. The cast of Addam’s Family were all in “Addam’s Family Groove” in one capacity or another, along with film footage interwoven. In “Kiss From A Rose,” Seal was on set, along with scenes from Batman Forever. Music videos of the flagship song from a soundtrack were a huge deal. I’m obviously driven in a big way by nostalgia, and in no moment is it more clear than this.
Before I get out of here, I’ll go ahead and talk about the one that’s been on everyone’s mind since they realized what I was writing about. Space Jam. That soundtrack quite literally had it all. There were hip hop and R&B covers of classic rock songs, superstar rapper collaborations, Barry White and Chris Rock, a Bugs Bunny rap song, and of course, “I Believe I Can Fly.” That song propelled the Space Jam soundtrack to go platinum six times. In his song “American Badass,” Kid Rock ‘raps’ that he went platinum seven times. After shaking off that sad disgust, it’s important to recognize that he said that in the lead single off his fifth album. It took Kid Rock 4 albums to sell 7 million records. I’ll admit that when I was 14, I was into “Bawitdaba” and “Only God Knows Why.” I also liked Limp Bizkit and Staind, since I’m making embarrassing admissions. But those admissions aside, Kid Rock sold 7 million albums in 10 years. According to riaa.com, the Space Jam soundtrack sold 6 million in 5 years on the power of 5 singles, most importantly “I Believe I Can Fly.” That song was so good we forgave R Kelly for . . . well, we forgave him for a lot. My friend Jacob, who is my friend in spite of his slanderous and libelous views on Space Jam, does not like the movie. Even he admits that soundtrack is (I don’t know how to make the fire emoji on here, but just picture me doing that five times).
Soundtracks have kind of gone by the wayside, they just aren’t as important anymore. Scott Pilgrim is a moment of respite from this, with some very fun music amidst a movie fun enough to make me ignore that Michael Cera is in it. Otherwise though, I don’t know of great soundtracks for movies that aren’t Disney or musicals. It’s disappointing. In this respect, I absolutely miss “the good old days.” That’s it for now, love and kisses!
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